Music highlights in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Little Boots

Little Boots

Whether you like to rock hard or rock soft, whether you want your face melted by death metal, or your ears tickled by folktronica, Glasgow and Edinburgh have your musical needs all wrapped up, finds Claire Sawers and Mark Petrie

Long before SuBo hit the scene, Scotland had ample reason to be very proud of its musical exports – and with good reason too. From the mighty Mogwai to The Jesus and Mary Chain and Cocteau Twins, via the Vaselines, Teenage Fanclub, Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian, not to mention more recent chart botherers such as Glasvegas, Paolo Nutini or KT Tunstall, music and Scotland go together like salt and sauce. (Or salt and vinegar if you’re from Glasgow, but that’s a whole other debate.)

Continuing the tradition for great live acts, both cities have a thriving music scene, which is enjoying some particularly good health right now, and means you can discover unheard of bands while they are still on the up and up, or catch a giant live act as their tour bus passes through town. You’ll find tiny little venues where you can stand in the front row and be sprayed by sweat as the lead singer leaps around the stage, or bigger stadiums where the singer is barely more than a blurry speck in the distance.

Bigger acts tend to play Glasgow’s SECC or the atmospheric Hampden stadium, while in Edinburgh, the Corn Exchange or Murrayfield hold the largest crowds. At the other end of the spectrum, smaller, more intimate venues like Glasgow’s Nice N Sleazy or Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire, and titchy, but very well respected bars like Glasgow’s Captain’s Rest or Edinburgh’s Sneaky Petes provide a much more intimate setting and have a good reputation for attracting some of the more exciting new acts doing the rounds at the moment.

In terms of the ‘scene’ in each city, Glasgow has always produced a solid, and well respected output of pop, techno and rock, while Edinburgh’s folk, electronica and indie scenes are alive and well. In the west, long-running club nights like Optimo and record labels like Soma or the Mogwai-run Rock Action help shape the city’s soundscape, while over in the east, regular nights put on by I Fly Spitfires and Spies in the Wires or more experimentally-minded mini-festivals, like Retreat and the Fife-based Fence Collective’s Homegame keep the musical calendar interesting.

Over the next few months, there are Scottish appearances from Bat For Lashes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lily Allen, Little Boots, Pink and Juliette Lewis. And those are just the ones fronted by girls. Jay-Z, Calvin Harris, Dizzee Rascal, Passion Pit and Paolo Nutini are all coming to town too, so keep an eye on our listings for details and where to get hold of tickets. If you fancy something a little more homegrown, we’ll be dishing out tips on local talent to watch as well.  Have fun blowing the student loan at the merch stand. And for those about to rock – or rave, body pop or mosh if that’s more your thing – we salute you.


Coldplay and Jay-Z
Ethereal pop-rock from the Chris Martin-fronted stadium fillers. The worldwide success of latest album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends is enough to justify their position as one of the biggest bands in the world today. Well, just. Hampden Park, Glasgow, Wed 9 Sep.

These up and coming beacons of new wave punk are embarking on their own 14-date UK tour in support of debut release Mind Chaos. Claiming ‘not to give a puck (clever, like what they did there) about band buzz’, these boys are shrugging off the hype that has built up around them. King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sun 20 Sep.

Florence & The Machine
So far managing to translate pre-emptive hype into actual, real life success, Miss Welch picked up a Brit Award as the Critics’ Choice in February, and her debut album Lungs narrowly missed out on the number 1 spot thanks to the untimely death of Michael Jackson. ABC, Glasgow, Tue 22 Sep.

Peter Doherty
Peter, as he would now like to be known, has been mildly successful in keeping his face out of the papers lately (minor drug charges aside), and has been concentrating on the music instead. His first solo effort Grace/Wastelands was generally well received, highlighting his potential as a credible musician rather than the shambolic tabloid fodder character we have become used to. Barrowland, Glasgow, Wed 23 Sep.

Massive Attack
Likely to be a showcase of new material from the long-awaited new album, interspersed with classic recordings such as ‘Teardrops’ and ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. With collaborators including Damon Albarn, Guy Garvey of Elbow and Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio, the upcoming new release looks set to be worth the wait. O2 Academy, Glasgow, Mon 28 & Tue 29 Sep.


Bloc Party
Having released three albums thus far and in the process of recording a fourth, Bloc Party have built up an impressive and diverse back catalogue. Expect to hear everything from the indie-dance of ‘Banquet’ from first album Silent Alarm to the more electro-inspired ‘Flux’ on their A Weekend in the City release. HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Sat 3 Oct.

The Pixies
Incredibly influential alt.rockers who never really hit the big time themselves, disbanding before the opportunity arose, yet nonetheless paving the way for the likes of Nirvana and Placebo to find a mainstream audience. Reformed in 2004, they are now back on the road with new material to sample. SECC, Glasgow, Sun 4 Oct.

Maximo Park
Third album Quicken The Heart did not propel these indie-rock maestros to the status it perhaps should have, but make no mistake: Paul Smith and the gang are on absolute top form. Expect energetic scissor kicks aplenty. Barrowland, Glasgow, Wed 7 Oct.

Jamie T
Wimbledon born and bred Jamie Treays is currently finishing off the follow up to his Mercury Prize nominated debut Panic Prevention. Barrowland, Glasgow, Fri 9 Oct.

Having only tapped into the mainstream with their hit ‘Don’t Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go)’, this London three-piece have actually been lingering around the underground scene for far longer than recent success would suggest. Garage, Glasgow, Sun 11 Oct.

Zero 7
The down-tempo satire of their first three albums has received constant critical acclaim, picking up coveted nominations and awards along the way. Having been featured heavily in commercial advertising and TV shows such as CSI, Zero 7 seem to be one of those bands you know but have no idea how or why. Queens Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 12 Oct.

Fronted by the dulcet tones of Tom Smith, Editors are a little darker and grungier than other like-minded indie rockers of today. New album In This Light and On This Evening sees them looking for a rawer approach than previous efforts. HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Mon 12 Oct and Barrowland, Glasgow, Tue 13 Oct.

Paolo Nutini
Paisley-born would-be chip shop worker, if not for that heavenly folksy voice and his songwriting talents. Having recently landed his first number one album with his second release Sunny Side Up, and undertaking a large tour of the USA, he returns to his homeland for a series of sell-out shows. O2 Academy, Glasgow, Wed 14 & Thu 15 Oct.
n 02 Academy, Glasgow, 4 Nov

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